Shane McGrath, Phillip Cummins, and David Stewart
Dam owners and regulators now commonly use risk assessment techniques to assist with decision making for an individual dam or a portfolio of dams. In many cases risk assessment is used to select an optimal course of action in relation to ongoing safety performance of dams, including the achievement of public safety objectives. However, whilst it is an important tool, the use of risk assessment alone is not sufficient to establish that a dam is “safe”.
In modern organisations, business objectives are achieved through a systematic approach to management which described simply sets out what needs to be achieved, how the required outcomes will be delivered and audits the process and results.
In hazardous industries such as mining, chemical, nuclear and dams, it is necessary to reliably achieve business objectives such as product volumes, unit costs and workplace health and safety alongside public safety objectives. In the dams industry, dam safety management systems are now being implemented to document how the organisation satisfies its corporate and business objectives, governance responsibilities and risk management processes.
It is also common in hazardous industries that a “safety case” is required by regulators to demonstrate that the owner has identified what could go wrong at its facility, what controls are in place and that there is a system in place to ensure that the controls are reliable. Whilst dam owners may rely on a dam safety risk assessment to meet regulatory obligations and demonstrate due diligence, the results of risk assessments are not routinely documented sufficiently to satisfy a “safety case” and therefore will not fully meet the organisation’s requirements.
Many dam owners are also responsible for the safety management of other hazardous facilities, such as urban water and mining corporations which typically manage hazardous chemical installations and hazardous or toxic waste disposal. For such organisations, the corporate awareness and processes should already exist to extend the “safety case” philosophy to the management of their dams.
This paper sets out the importance of a dam “safety case”, the essential elements of a safety case and its relationship to the dam safety management system.
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Two techniques were used to calculate seismic hazard at a number of locations in southeast Australia. To simplify matters only Peak Ground Accelerations were compared.
The first technique used a seismological model of areal source zones that was based on the recorded seismicity as well as geological and tectonic inputs. Each zone was assigned a rate of earthquake activity that had been calculated from the recorded seismicity and a magnitude completeness function. Known geological faults that are also part of the model had to be excluded to allow a direct comparison with the second technique. A standard probabilistic seismic hazard analysis then gave PGA values versus return periods. This is the approach that has been used for the current Australian earthquake loading code (AS1170.4).
The second technique used a simple historical approach whereby recorded earthquakes were combined with an attenuation function to directly give the estimated return periods. This approach takes no account of tectonics, geological terranes or faulting – it simply uses the known, recorded earthquake catalogue. This is the technique used in the original Australian earthquake loading code (AS 2121).
The same ground motion attenuation function was used in both techniques but for a direct comparison the aleatory variability was set to zero in the probabilistic case because the historical approach did not include this effect.
In the historical approach the variability in completeness of the recorded catalogue was not considered. It was simply assumed that all earthquakes producing accelerations greater than a given value would be recorded over the last 100 years.
The comparisons were made for minimum considered magnitudes of 4 and 5.
There was general agreement between the two approaches especially at shorter return periods (lower PGA amplitudes). At longer return periods (higher PGA amplitudes) where there were higher uncertainties, the results at some sites diverged.
This simple comparison of two approaches to the same problem of estimating earthquake hazard is shown to be of value in ensuring that the AUS5 model used by SRC is producing results that are consistent with the historically recorded data.
Peter Hill, David Stephens, Kelly Maslin, Rachel Brown, Simon Lang, and Chriselyn Meneses
There has been a growing awareness of the potential dam safety risks associated with hydraulic structures in urban environments such as retarding basins, water quality detention basins and recreational lakes. This has required estimates of rare and extreme floods for urban catchments and there are a number of important characteristics of urban catchments which distinguish them from rural catchments such as impervious areas, lack of streamflow data, blockage of structures and complex hydraulics. This paper describes the key considerations for flood estimation in urban catchments and draws examples from a number of current flood studies for urban catchments in Canberra.
Francisco Lopez and Michael McKay
At 36 m high and completed in 1902, Barossa Dam is one of the first true concrete arch dams in the world. During the 1954 Darlington Earthquake the dam sustained some damage, in the form of several vertical cracks on both dam’s abutments. In 2013, GHD conducted a nonlinear time-history seismic assessment of Barossa Dam. The analyses, carried out using finite element techniques, included ground motion loading corresponding to Maximum Design Earthquakes (MDEs) with 1 in 10,000 Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP).
This paper will explain the purpose of the study, the material investigation phase, the methodology, model results, the anticipated seismic behaviour of the dam wall, as well as the predicted level of damage under the MDEs. The paper examines the dam construction practices of the beginning of the 20th century, and how such practices affected the material properties and the structural performance of Barossa Dam.
Dennis C. Green
Current good practice for risk management as represented in ANCOLD guidelines emphasises risk reduction beyond tolerable risk levels to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP). Risk reduction reflected in key design parameters such as the spillway design flood is monitored on a quantitative basis, while the guidelines also draw attention to a number of non-quantifiable measures.
Recent work health and safety legislation in Australia does not at first appear to relate to dam safety, but it mandates elimination of risk, and, if that is not possible, then it mandates reduction of risk So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable (SFAIRP). It is tempting to believe that this is equivalent to ANCOLD’s approach to ALARP, but the devil is in the detail of the legislation. This paper argues for a change to a more systematic presentation of recording of decisions on dam safety risk management, lest the legislation expose dam owners unwittingly to liability when they thought they were following good practice. In particular, the re-focussing of ANCOLD Guidelines to align more recognisably with the new legal paradigm, including preparation and adoption of a Safety Case, is recommended.
S. Suter, G. Singh, and M. Britton
Today, many organisations rely on hydrodynamic modelling to assess the consequences of dam break failure on downstream populations and infrastructure. The availability of finite volume shock-capturing schemes and flexible mesh schematisations in widely used software platforms imply that dam break modelling projects will be carried out differently in the future: Finite volume based platforms allow widespread application of shock-capturing methods and flexible mesh platforms can represent features in the study area more realistically and are more flexible thanks to varying mesh resolutions. Furthermore, the recent adoption of Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) technology in mainstream scientific and engineering computing will also significantly decrease computation times at relatively low cost.
This paper examines the application of finite volume, flexible mesh and GPU technologies to dam break modelling. One-dimensional (1D) modelling results are compared to those from two-dimensional (2D) finite difference and finite volume approaches. The results demonstrate that there are differences between modelling approaches and that the computational speeds of 2D simulations can be significantly reduced by the use of GPU processors.